There’s something a bit primal in the autumn. As the leaves start falling from the trees the urge to create new life stirs in much of our wildlife and nowhere could have been more charged than London’s leafy suburb of Richmond upon Thames this weekend.
Richmond Park is London’s largest Royal Park and home to around 300 Red and 350 Fallow Deer. At this time of year the does come in to season and the park reverberates to the sound of the stags challenging each other. Even close to the road it is quite easy to find yourself suddenly confronted by one of Britain’s largest land animals emerging from the bracken and spoiling for a fight.
Fortunately it’s normally another stag they are interested in, but it’s worth remembering that these are powerful wild animals, especially if you find yourself surrounded by three of them, like we did. We just kept still and eventually the largest stag chased the two smaller animals off. It was rather like being in the middle of our own wildlife documentary and during the afternoon we saw loads of Red Deer. We also saw some of the shyer Fallow Deer running through the bracken close to the river bank.
We also saw rather a lot of these fellows.
He’s an Indian Ring Necked Parakeet and there were hundreds of them enjoying the chestnuts. The parakeets at Richmond are one of three major breeding colonies in London descended from escaped cage birds. The others are at Eltham and Kensal Rise cemetary. Some people want to see these immigrants eradicated, but I rather like them.
The park closes at around 6pm so we went to have a drink at The Roebuck on Richmond Hill, where you get a splendid view as the Sun sets over the Thames meandering through Buccleach Gardens. Who would have thought you would get a view like this,
about 45 minutes from central London by tube?.
We finished the evening at Don Fernando’s Spanish Tapas Restaurant (27F The Quadrant, 020 8948 8447), slap bang next to Richmond Station. this is one of my favourite Spanish restaurants, just opening the door a cornucopia of flavours assaults your nose from the open kitchen that runs along the side of the seating area. It’s busy, noisy and the closest thing to being in Spain without actuually being there. We started with padron peppers and followed with spanish omelette, Patatas Bravas, prawns in garlic oil, flattened lamb steak, Albondigas (Spanish meat balls) Manchego cheese, Chorizo de la Plancha and aubergine fritters. despite this feast there we still had room for a desert. I had a delightful lemon ice cream, and a digestif.
For the six of us with water, beer and coffees the bill came to £133, amazingly good value for food of that quality and quantity.
Richmond is on the London Underground District Line, London Overground and Southern Region Railways. Richmond Park is about a 20 minute walk from the station and admission is free.